Too often I hear “employee loyalty is dead,” or “once you leave here, you’re dead to us.” The good news is that employee loyalty isn’t dead, it just looks different, and the form it’s now taking is even more valuable today than the antiquated definition of it offered by people who bemoan its extinction. And since it’s morphed, we need to stop thinking about former employees as “dead to us” if we want to create sustainable businesses that don’t just survive but thrive with great talent.
The changing definition of employee loyalty
We used to define (and unfortunately some companies still do define) employee loyalty by the length of an employee’s tenure with our organizations. Anyone who left before the company wanted them to go was disloyal. How shortsighted.
As a business owner, I don’t want my former employees to stop their alliance with us just because I’m not paying them anymore. On the contrary, I want every employee to be loyal to my company for their whole lives, even past retirement. Why? Because those companies that have an ever-growing base of allegiant alumni are the ones that recruit faster, on-board more efficiently, have high-performing environments people want to contribute in, and build business with less friction.
Here’s how to inspire lifetime loyalty from your employees.
- Create a culture of value. The first step to loyalty is creating a culture that people want to be in. This includes:
- Vision and values. A clear vision of the future so everyone understands why they’re doing what they’re doing, and clear values that guide positive behavior and facilitate decision making.
- Appreciation. Teams that feel appreciated out-perform those that don’t.
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